Hospital reaches surgery milestone with 1,000th robotics procedure

Published 1:59 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

NATCHEZ — When Chris Newman looks at his abdomen, the tiny hole he sees marks a rapid recovery for him and a milestone for Merit Health Natchez.

Newman’s surgery, conducted last week by Dr. Geoffrey Flattman, was the 1,000th robotic surgery, conducted at Merit Health Natchez, which hospital officials said is a milestone for the hospital.

“This is an exciting time for our hospital, and the progress and growth in the use of this technology is a testament to the commitment, vision and passion of our surgeons and our outstanding surgery team,” said Lance Boyd, CEO of Merit Health Natchez

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Flattmann, a general surgeon at Merit Health Natchez, conducted the 1,000th operation while seated in a console and viewing a 3-D image of the surgical area.

Common procedures that utilize robotic technology include hernia repairs, gallbladder, colon, single incision surgery and hysterectomies, hospital officials said.

Because of this technology, Flattmann was able to perform an inguinal or groin hernia repair as the system mimicked his movements in real time, but on a smaller scale within the patient’s body — while the machine provided a sharper 360-degree view of the surgery site and greater dexterity.

“Our community is very fortunate Merit Health Natchez has invested in technology that integrates robotics and minimally invasive techniques,” Flattmann said. “The technology is truly incredible and my patients experience less pain and scarring and fewer complications, plus they are back on their feet more quickly. Every robotic-assisted surgery is exciting to me, so performing the 1,000th procedure was pretty special.”

Newman said he was excited to learn after his surgery was over that he was the 1,000th patient at the hospital to have a robotic surgery.

“It’s such a blessing that Merit Health offers robotics surgeries,” Newman said. “It’s an advanced technique … and the doctors are specifically trained to operate using this technology.”

Newman also could attest to the recovery rate, though he was under anesthesia for the operation, he said.

“The recovery is much faster and there is much less pain with robotics,” Newman said. “(The scaring) was very minimal. It’s just a small hole.”

Newman, who works at Merit Health Natchez as a nurse, said he had surgery on Wednesday of last week and anticipates he will be fully recovered by early January.

Newman said he has been through five hernia operations in his lifetime, three of which were performed with robotic assistance.

“I’ve had this exact surgery 28 years ago in the traditional manner,” Newman said. “They didn’t have robotics back then. I was 6 to 7 weeks off work and couldn’t move. This time, I was able to move around my house. I could get up and walk from my bed to the couch and to the fridge to get something to eat and drink. All of my robotic experiences have been so much better than traditional open surgeries.”

Other physicians, Boyd said, were instrumental in helping Merit Health Natchez reach the 1,000th robotic surgery milestone, including Dr. Christopher Martin, general surgeon and obstetricians and gynecologists Dr. Frank Guedon, Dr. Melissa Jones and Dr. Kofi Kumi.

“The robotic surgery program at Merit Health Natchez is making a difference in people’s lives,” Boyd said. “With our skilled surgeons and an exceptional team of anesthesia, surgery and post-anesthesia care, people in our community can be assured this team is focused on patient safety, care and comfort.”